Book Review: A Straggling Life – Andrew Watson

A Straggling Life – Andrew Watson by Llew Walker

Andrew Watson is a Scottish sporting icon but one who history seemed to forget about as time passed. It was only in the last two decades that we starting to find more info regarding this historic figure.

Glasgow’s Southside now has two memorials that include his portrait and we now also have this wonderful book!

Andrew Watson was a black footballer who played in both Scotland and England during the 1870s and 1880s. Along the way he’d make a lot of firsts like becoming the first black international player, first black football administrator and Scotland’s first black captain.

He played for Queen’s Park, at a time when The Spiders were quite probably the best football club in the world.

Llew Walker does a superb job trying to give us as much about Andrew Watson’s life as possible, not an easy task hence why we went so long without hearing Watson’s story.

Walker has been meticulous in gathering as much information as possible. It’s not just a football history book: we learn about Britain’s class structure, public schooling, the history of plantation owners and their links to the slave trade.

Watson’s relationship with his father and his own children remains a mystery throughout but they all seemed distant, which allows for speculation.

We also learn that the Scottish press and the Scottish footballing public seemed to really admire Andrew Watson and take him to their hearts. He would be regularly praised in newspaper articles, which Walker constantly references.

I love the fact that teams used to hold sports days and players up and down the country would compete in various athletic events. Watson was always a keen participant.

Back in the day footballers seemed to play for various teams whilst the authorities were still trying to figure out all the rules. Watson seemed to jump around a lot, showing his passion for the game. He would even travel between London and Glasgow to play for different teams during the same month. It shows us that he must’ve been extremely fit during his peak. Llew also must have been very disciplined in his research as he managed to plot ‘Andy’s’ nomadic career. The player made 300 appearances in 13 year period.

The author is also fantastic in describing the early beginnings of football and what it was like during this era. He makes the formations, the events and styles of play accessible to the modern football fan.

This is a fantastic resource detailing the life of a man that really helped shape the game along with his contemporaries.

As Scotland head towards Euro 2020, I urge every Tartan Army foot-soldier to buy this book and learn about a Scottish Professor!

But it is also a worthy read for any reader interested in history, especially footballing history.

Currently Available At Waterstones

Spurs Star Gareth Bale Needs To Keep This Form Up For The Remainder Of This Campaign

In the last month, Tottenham Hotspur have started to see the Gareth Bale they were expecting to see after he returned to the club from Real Madrid.

In his last four outings in a Spurs kit the Welshman has conjured up four goals and three assists.

He produced a virtuoso performance in his side’s 4-0 romp over Burnley yesterday (Sky Sports Match Report) and more importantly the thirty-one year old was playing with a smile on his face.

Bale’s return to form couldn’t really have come at a better time as Tottenham were in a bit of a slump and have an important run of fixtures coming up.

The North London club will still harbour ambitions of creeping back into the Premier League’s all important Top Four positions. To do that they’ll need to go on a winning run and their next three games are all tricky London derbies.

The Lilywhite’s will also have the Europa League firmly in their sights as they’ve managed to get through to the last 16 of that competition and face Dinamo Zagreb in ten days time.

Then in April they will have a chance to claim silverware in the form of the League Cup as they face Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side at Wembley in the final.

To achieve all of these objectives or at even two of them, then you’ve got to believe that Spurs and their top players need to be at the top of their game. That has to include Gareth Bale!

The Welsh international has proven himself to be a talismanic figure in the past both for club and country, especially in the important fixtures. He has scored in all important games like Champions League finals.

His winning experience would’ve impressed his current boss Jose Mourinho and as the season is about to hit an almighty crescendo, you’ve got to believe that the Portuguese boss will want to have Bale in his starting line-up firing on all cylinders.

After yesterday’s win, Mourinho did single out the forward for some special praise:

 “It’s the best Bale that we have had during this season, more confidence, better condition, no bad feelings with injuries.

“I’m happy for Gareth because he is a Spurs boy and it means a lot for him to bring happiness to the fans.”

Mourinho via BBC Sport

Bale’s interactions with fellow forward’s Harry Kane, Son Heung-Min and Lucas Moura would’ve also pleased Spurs fans, who have been desperate to see more from their Welsh hero.

Expectation and realism also has to take hold when discussing Gareth Bale. For whatever reasons for much of this season he hasn’t been good enough. Plus he still has to show that he can still do it in the big encounters.

Lucky for him then Tottenham Hotspur have plenty of big games coming up between now and the end of the season. That’s plenty of minutes for the attacker to show that he can still make an impact on the grandest of stages!

If he can do that, then maybe just maybe Spurs supporters can have a few trophies to end the campaign with.

Book Review: Bring The Noise

Klopp: Bring The Noise by Raphael Honigstein

Sometimes it can be difficult for a biography to work without too much of a contribution from the main subject (Jurgen Klopp in this instance).

Yet when the author is a fine sports journalist like Raphael Honigstein then you get a well rounded story and you still manage to learn much more about that subject.

Rafa obviously took a lot of time to research the life of Jurgen Klopp and gather insightful stories from first hand sources like teammates, employers and family members.

I particularly appreciate the fact that Honigstein doesn’t solely concentrate all his efforts on Klopp’s time at Liverpool, the book covers up until Liverpool’s Champions League triumph in 2019.

To get a better image of Jurgen Klopp the manager you need to find out more about his family environment, his time as a player, his time as manager of Mainz 05, making it as a TV pundit and then his job at Borussia Dortmund. We get all that from this book.

His time at Mainz 05 is really the era that shaped Klopp as a gaffer and as a person, those parts of the story are the most enlightening in my opinion. Raphael described this period with such texture and with so much detail, I came away from those chapters itching to go to the Rhineland-Palatinate, visiting the carnival city and the Opel Arena!

When you know more about a football manager’s history, then the more you can understand his present. Looking at Klopp’s history at both Mainz and Dortmund you’ll notice that dips happen but he doesn’t panic or shy away from them. That’s currently happening at Anfield at the moment. That should make things better for The Reds in the long run as he’ll no doubt get things right again.

Watching Jurgen Klopp on our television sets and you believe that he’s a good man. Reading this book you know he’s a good man. Not many managers get the respect he does from fans, players and administrators alike. His attention to all those around him, not just with his players, is sensational.

The Germans have lots of stereotypes like being direct and being methodical. You get both of those traits in this book and that’s what makes it special. Honigstein keeps to the point of Klopp, which is want you want as a reader. He gets quotes from various sources and will mention them all.

His hard work pays off as this book is extremely interesting and as well as shining a light on Jurgen Klopp’s enthusiasm for football, it also shows us that the author also loves the game and that’s why he did so much research into this project.

It was definitely worth it Raphael!

A top quality look at one of the world’s best football managers.

Available online at Waterstones

Celtic Should Replace Neil Lennon Now

Neil Lennon has decided that he can’t continue as Celtic manager with the club announcing early today that he had resigned with immediate effect (Source BBC Sport).

He leaves with The Hoops sitting second place in the Scottish Premiership but a full eighteen points behind leaders Rangers. It’s now possible for the Ibrox side to wrap up the title at Celtic’s own ground in March.

Celtic also capitulated in both the Champions League and the Europa League earlier in the season, while also losing out to Ross County in the League Cup.

All of this alongside pretty poor communication from the board have lead to fan protests.

We can’t be at all surprised to see Lennon leaving, although I still thought he’d try to holdout until the end of this current campaign.

The Celtic statement has gone on to state that assistant John Kennedy will takeover as interim boss.

I’m of the belief that Celtic can’t hold out until the end of the season without appointing a new permanent gaffer.

To be honest, the Glasgow east end club should have a new footballing structure that includes a new manager, sporting director and head of recruitment in before the start of the next term.

Now the Celtic board might say that they don’t want to rush into any decisions. That would be fair enough if there was ever a possibility of Neil staying in the job beyond the summer but as I’ve already stated we’ve all known his time was coming to an end and we’ve all pretty much known this before the festive period of 2020.

It’s already been announced that Chief Executive Peter Lawwell is standing down in the summer and he’ll be replaced by Dominic McKay (Via Daily Record). This announcement shows us that the Celtic hierarchy can act swiftly when called upon.

If the board don’t have a list of candidates drawn up by now then they’re neglecting their duties, in my opinion, although given how Lennon got the job we can’t be too surprised if they haven’t.

Most of Europe’s big teams have replacements sounded out beforehand just look at Jose Mourinho to Tottenham Hotspur and Thomas Tuchel to Chelsea as recent examples.

Some might say that this season is finished, so what’s the point in getting the new guy in now?

Well just look at when Celtic lost former boss Brendan Rodgers during the 2018/19 season. Leicester City wanted Rodgers in early to assess their squad and get ready for the next season. That gave their new manager time to work with those that he knew were staying, get a style sorted and they were up and running for that following August.

Rodgers has since stated how important those extra few months were for him at Leicester:

“I was able to come into Leicester and assess players while they were under pressure because that’s when you can really make judgements. I felt it would give me those last 10 or 11 games of the season to assess what Leicester had and what needed to be done.”

“It gave me the time to prepare for the summer so that we were ready to make a challenge at the start of this season.”

Via Daily Record

With some some very good coaches out there in need of a job, surely Celtic have earmarked a preferred candidate?

European qualifiers will be coming thick and fast in the summer, Celtic’s squad will need to be revamped big time during that same period and the fans need a lift if they’re going to be enticed to give up more money on season tickets.

It makes no sense for Celtic not to have thought all this through and have a plan ready to roll out now. Anything else would be folly!

Book Review: 250 Days

250 Days by Daniel Storey

I’ve been a Premier League fan since it’s inception and for me Eric Cantona has been the best foreign player to play in England’s top flight. I think he was the catalyst that lead to better tactics and to an influx of better players.

The moment he kung-fu kicked a supporter in the stands at Selhurst Park became iconic and that’s why this book stood out for me.

As a bookseller, I often have people asking about recommendations and in particular by people who want to get into reading. I’ll always suggest that they look at what interests them; History? Romantic films? Crime dramas? Sri-Fi? I am always hoping it’s football. A lot of these people are adults. When these enquiries pop up, I will often suggest smaller books as they aren’t intimidating. The amount of young men and women asking about recommendations was growing as 2020 was coming to an end, I truly think one positive of these lockdowns is that there’s an appetite to read more and learn more about the things in which people love.

For me, if you are football fan and aren’t a huge reader then this is an ideal book to try and get you into reading. It’s only 140 pages long and football writer Daniel Storey tackles the extremely interesting topic with an enthusiasm that creates excitement within the reader to keep turning the pages.

It covers a 250 day period that happened over twenty five years ago but it’s a great resource in learning about a turbulent period that would come to define the main protagonists (Eric Cantona, Sir Alex Ferguson & Manchester United).

For me, it’s in a format reminiscent of former TV show ’24’. It captures the dramatic key moments in the appropriate timeline, although it is packed with detail instead of action.

It’s a accurate account of the goings on that happened during that period, using plenty of sources to give you an unbiased explanation. Daniel has obviously worked hard to go back to that iconic time within the Premier League and retell a story that hit both the front and back pages of the world’s newspapers.

250 Days doesn’t paint any goodies or baddies, real life is often grey rather than being black and white. It allows you the reader to come up with your own conclusions.

I really love the way Storey explores Eric’s impact on the Man United team, even when he wasn’t able to play, especially with the young crop that were coming through.

Essential reading for fans of 90s football or Manchester United. Also a great read for anyone who likes fine, well crafted sports writing and wants to understand more about an epic time within the Premier League’s history.

250 Days is currently available online.

Three Main Issues Liverpool Have Had To Endure This Season

If you look at Jurgen Klopp’s record as a coach you’ll notice that at his previous clubs, Mainz O5 and Borussia Dortmund, the German’s sides have always suffered from dips in form at some point.

I think it’s fair to say that he’s now suffering from yet another dip in form at current employers Liverpool.

Early in the campaign it looked like the current Premier League champions would be a force again this year as they looked to retain their title.

But before February ends, it looks like Liverpool are already out of the title race and are now losing ground in the fight to get back into the league’s valuable top four places.

While it might be a bit depressing for Reds fans at the moment, personally I can see three key issues that have made this term so difficult for Liverpool. When you can identify reasoning behind the decline, then that should show supporters that a return to form should be expected.

It just might not happen as soon as people would like.

So here’s the issues that have really hampered the Anfield side:

INJURIES

This one has been huge.

The biggest loss has obviously been the talismanic figure of Virgil van Dijkat the back. Probably the world’s best centre-half and a player who demands the best from those around him.

Liverpool would’ve been a weaker force without Van Dijk no matter what but when you add long term injuries to fellow centre-backs Joe Gomez and Joel Matip it has meant for a much weaker backline for The Reds.

Klopp just hasn’t been able to call on a consistent backline with goalkeeper Alisson also spending time in the doctor’s room and gap fillers Fabinho and now Jordan Henderson (Source: Liverpoolfc.com) also succumbing to knocks.

The red half of Merseyside has conceded the most amount of goals so far out of the top seven sides in the Premier League and that is simply down to amount of key personnel missing in defence. The continuous new faces in the heart of Liverpool’s back four has seen confidence and consistency levels drop dramatically.

“Why we change late is because we constantly have to think that somebody will go down with an injury. We cannot change early, because we change early and the other one has an injury, and you end the game with nine players,”

Via ESPN

PRESSURE OF BEING CHAMPIONS

It’s not the worst pressure to be under as it means you’ve already got a winner’s medal in your bag but it has been notoriously difficult for teams to retain the English top flight crown in the last decade. Only current league leaders Manchester City (once) have managed it in that period of time!

It was thirty years between Liverpool’s current league title win and their previous one. They have an experienced squad but dealing with being the country’s biggest scalp is new to pretty much everyone in their squad.

While Jurgen Klopp oversaw his Dortmund team win back to back Bundesliga triumphs, it should be noted that that was over eight years ago now.

So it is somewhat natural that this new experience can be hard to cope with as every other team in the league sees you as a trophy to be won. Just look at Everton’s celebrations yesterday (BBC Match Report)

MISSING THE FANS

This is a big one when you look at Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp.

The German gaffer always makes a point in making the crowd his twelfth man. Now I know missing the supporters in the stadia has impacted on every team but few use the energy of the fans quite like Klopp can.

We’ve seen it countless times when his team has needed an extra push, Klopp will prowl up and down his technical area being as animated as Disney’s Simba singing about one day being a king. Every fist pump or yell is met with the Anfield crowd pumping up their own decibels.

Klopp, more then any other current Premier League manager, has a connection with the support and gets them on their feet and almost forcefully pushing their players on to great things. European victories over Dortmund and FC Barcelona instantly spring to mind.

It’s hard to imagine that Liverpool would fail to get more points if they had the Kop backing that inspires heroes and defeats opponents.

…..

These three key factors point to a brighter future for Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool. In injuries will stop mounting and players will return. That will see a much stronger defence and they’ll start to concede less. The pressure of being champions will soon come to an end as Man City charge towards the title and that will give The Reds time to refocus and regroup. And hopefully by next term supporters will return to the stands and they can become that twelfth man again!

It just might not all happen right away, so as ever it’s best to back Klopp and watch as he gets things right again in the future.

Book Review: Quiet Leadership

Quiet Leadership by Carlo Ancelotti (with Chris Brady & Mike Forde)

I feel so many people could learn from this book and not just those interested in football.

It’s almost a business academic book. I honestly think many retail, hospitality and business managers/students could learn from the experienced Italian boss and his teachings within these pages.

It shows you that as a coach or manager, Carlo Ancelotti doesn’t believe football begins and ends on the pitch. It’s about managing relationships and dealing with pressure!

Just looking at Carlo Ancelotti you could tell that he was a man of style and one that would appreciate respect and loyalty. These traits run right through the spine of his teams and within this book.

It is really interesting to read how Carlo would have to manage upwards and deal with chaotic owners/presidents. He doesn’t criticise those in a club’s hierarchy, instead he tells us that it’s up to him to produce results that placate these demanding employees.

Ancelotti is at his most comfortable when he’s discussing his workings with footballers and how he treats them as humans first.

Unlike most coaches these days, the Italian doesn’t seem to have a strict footballing philosophy. In the book he explains why he feels being flexible and open are keys to being able to sustain success throughout his career, no matter where he goes.

Quiet Leadership takes us up till 2016 and just before Carlo took over at Bayern Munich, because it is more methodical than a box standard memoir it doesn’t matter that it isn’t up to date. I doubt Carlo will have changed too much in the last five years.

Each part of the book ends with a perspective on Carlo Ancelotti by a former player of his, or a competing manager or a man he used to work for. To show you the standard of Ancelotti’s class as a manager and as a man he’s able to get the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paolo Maldini and Sir Alex Ferguson to reaffirm what Ancelotti has said in previous chapters.

A masterful book of insight into what it’s like to work in a tough industry and succeed in a high profile position!

Quiet Leadership is available online at Waterstones.

Edinson Cavani Is Manchester United’s Most Natural Number Nine

The famous number seven jersey may sit on the back of Edinson Cavani’s shirt at Manchester United but he’s a forward more in the ilk of a Denis Law rather than that of a flamboyant wide player like a George Best.

Essentially the Uruguayan is more of a number nine, a central striker,

In fairness that’s what Man United needed when they brought the experienced marksman to the club back in the summer.

Many seen it as a bit of a panic buy but as I said at the time, given a proper chance he’d soon change people’s minds and become a valuable asset for the Red Devils.

Now we’re in February it’s plain for everyone to see that the signing has been successful and that’s because the thirty-three year old has proven himself as the best centre forward at the club.

I’m a huge fan of both Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford but they don’t give you the same impact as Edinson.

Martial just hasn’t been consistent enough playing through the middle. I think the arrival of Cavani laid a gauntlet down to the French forward and he hasn’t responded in the best fashion. Maybe Anthony can make that right wing spot his own between now and the end of the season.

Rashford has shown that he’s probably more suited to coming in off the left wing, than starting as the club’s main striker. Marcus has grabbed eight Premier League goals so far this term and six of those have come when he’s been on the left flank. He gets involved in the game more from that position and he does seem to be a player that flourishes the more he sees the ball at his feet.

I believe that youngster Mason Greenwood is still too raw to be considered as the team’s main forward on a consistent basis.

Cavani gives Red Devils boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer some much needed experience up top. He’s a player that regularly gets into double figures with his seasonal goal tally.

The hitman gives United a focal point up-front. He battles away, wins headers, presses defences and makes intelligent runs. He may be entering his mid thirties but he’s still extremely fit and always raring to go and getting into dangerous positions.

Edinson has made fifteen league appearances for Man Utd, six starts, and he has had a strong goal return of five and two assists. He has proven that he can handle the rigours of England’s top flight and just seems to get better with the more game time he gets.

It’s getting to the stage that Solskjaer just can’t really afford to leave Cavani out of his starting line-up.

After scoring in his side’s recent wonderful 9-0 victory over Southampton (BBC Match Report), Cavani picked up a knock. Ole will be delighted that that injury has been shrugged off as he’s ready to face Everton tonight (Source ManUtd.com).

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has also talked about the Uruguayan’s growing influence around the young forwards, comparing him to former United striker Teddy Sheringham:

“Teddy came in 1997 with his experience and I learnt a lot from him. I think he [Edinson Cavani] has come in and almost been a similar type of influence,” 

“We were young strikers learning off Teddy, now Cavani has Mason, Marcus and Anthony learning off him. Edinson has been a great addition.”

Via Skysports.com

All in all, I just can’t see Edinson Cavani not getting the nod as Manchester United’s go to man to start up-front for the rest of this term. They simply look more dangerous and balanced with the experienced goal getter leading the line!

Superb Summer Signing Ruben Dias Has Given Man City Defensive Consistency

Manchester City have long been in search of a Vincent Kompany replacement, even during the Belgian defender’s last few seasons at City they were on the lookout for someone who could consistently fill the void he’d leave behind.

Quite a few central defensive names have arrived at The Etihad and most have them have been found wanting.

A soft centre in the central defensive department has been Pep Guardiola’s only real failing since his own arrival at City in 2016.

There’s no doubting that centre-backs John Stones and Aymeric Laporte possess talent, the issue those two have is consistency. They have dips in form and they also seem to attract too many injuries.

Summer signing Nathan Ake is another talented defender, he’s proven that with AFC Bournemouth for a number of seasons in the Premier League but he too has suffered from knocks and ailments this term.

Yet fellow new boy Ruben Dias has managed to stay clear of the treatment table and offered fine consistent performances in City’s backline.

In fact the Portuguese international has been the only centre-half to have played in more than fifteen league games thus far this season. Stones has managed twelve, Laporte has seven appearances and Ake has made just six!

Dias has managed to keep up his strong performances no matter who he has partnered, a trait he shares with former City captain Kompany.

I also don’t think it’s by coincidence that Manchester City have a far superior goal difference in the Premier League this season since Dias has come into the back four. They’ve conceded just thirteen goals in twenty-one league fixtures (with Ruben starting in nineteen of those).

Dias certainly fits the bill of a Pep defender in that he’s very talented and efficient with the ball. The twenty-three year old boasts a 93.2% passing success rate, on average making more than 85 passes per game too (Stats Via Whoscored).

He isn’t a defender that rushes into tackles or one that gives away silly fouls. Ruben is a player that likes an interception (making more than one per game) and who isn’t shabby when it’s in the air (he’s winning around 2.2 aerial battles per game and making 2.8 clearances).

Another huge bonus is that Dias is an excellent communicator. That is another telling trait he shares with Vincent Kompany. It should make him a valuable leader in the City defence for years to come!

His manager Pep Guardiola has been extremely pleased with his new recruit:

“So far, how he’s settled immediately, in terms of mentality and he’s a guy who lives 24 hours for his profession.”

Via Manchester Evening News

When current Premier League champions Liverpool signed Virgil van Dijk on the first of January in 2017 you could immediately sense a change in the Merseyside club. He brought with him an assurance, competitiveness and consistency that The Reds desperately needed and that would send them on their way back to glory.

I get that same sense when I see Ruben Dias in a Manchester City jersey. He has come in and made an immediate impact and made the team a lot stronger with him in their backline.

If City maintain their current run of form then you’ve got to imagine that they will regain that league crown and Dias will have played a huge part in that!

Big Six Could Possibly Try & Raid Leeds For Raphinha In The Summer

Leeds United’s troubles over the last decade and a half have been well documented.

Multiple relegations and administration have been the cause of great distress to a city obsessed with football.

As much as the fans did everything to keep the Leeds flag flying during some of the most depressing years, by packing away ends at places like Hartlepool and Hereford, the fun of actually enjoying football had gone. 

Tribalism and passion can only take you so far.

There did come a time when Whites fans were forced to question what made them fall in love with football; because it sure wasn’t the time a postman knocked Leeds out of the FA Cup. Indeed, it seemed like a city that had witnessed some of the best players in the world playing at Elland Road, were indefinitely subjected to the scraps of lower league football. Going to a half-empty ground to see dreadful signings kicking lumps out of each other on a mud pitch, was worlds away from the roar that once filled Elland Road after Leeds scored the winner against European giants AC Milan

Without a doubt, the Leeds Utd faithful have been through the most frightening trauma during their fall down the football pyramid. These days, the superstars are beginning to return to Elland Road and the healing has started in earnest. 

This is down to Leeds spending handsomely over the summer to bring in a talented spine in order to keep them up after their heroic promotion under manager charismatic Marcelo Bielsa

You can categorically say that this approach has worked given that, at the beginning of February, Leeds are at odds of 100/1 in Premier League betting to be relegated. Now, they wouldn’t have been far off evens to go down when they stepped out onto the Anfield pitch for their first game of the season, but their summer spree has paid off. 

Indeed, vast amounts were outlaid for Rodrigo, Robin Koch and Diego Llorente, and, for good measure, Leeds found £17m to spend on an unknown player called Raphinha (Source BBC). It was all quite surprising at the time; given that the Brazilian had no problem giving up Champions League football with Rennes, in order to head across the Channel and up to the north of England to help Leeds avoid relegation in the Premier League

He had already endeared himself to the Leeds fans, but was he any good? 

Perhaps we can answer that question another way, everytime Raphinha gets the ball, Leeds United fans around the world are rewarded for their patience during the dark days and subsequent belief that things would one day get better. 

The 24-year-old’s time on the Leeds United wing has been so successful since his arrival that there is a genuine concern around West Yorkshire that he is already being coveted by the Premier League’s Big Six clubs. Three goals and four assists in 15 Premier League games has meant that Raphinha has announced himself on football’s biggest domestic stage with some style. 

Whether you support Leeds United or not, and it’s not common for Leeds to attract too much love outside of the region, you can’t help but hold your breath when Raphinha glides past an opponent on his way to the goal. The Brazilian’s nimble feet are backed up by a work ethic that only Marcelo Bielsa can instil in a player. It’s not often that you find a team’s luxury player is also one of the hardest workers on the field, but that’s what Raphinha does; he puts in a shift that defies belief. 

Raphinha has the attributes that world-class managers have their scouts scouring the globe for.

The secret is out now with Raphinha delivering in the best league in the world every weekend to an audience of millions. Make no mistake, Leeds United will have a battle on their hands to keep this wonderful footballer when the summer comes around.